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5.0 9
by Morris Gleitzman

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Set in the current day, this is the final book in Morris Gleitzman's series that began with Once, continued with Then and is . . . Now.

Felix is a grandfather. He has achieved much in his life and is widely admired in the community. He has mostly buried the painful memories of his childhood, but they resurface when his granddaughter Zelda


Set in the current day, this is the final book in Morris Gleitzman's series that began with Once, continued with Then and is . . . Now.

Felix is a grandfather. He has achieved much in his life and is widely admired in the community. He has mostly buried the painful memories of his childhood, but they resurface when his granddaughter Zelda comes to stay with him. Together they face a cataclysmic event armed only with their gusto and love—an event that helps them achieve salvation from the past, but also brings the possibility of destruction.

Now is one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Children's Books of 2012

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A clever and satisfying way of coming full circle.” —School Library Journal

“A powerful conclusion to Felix's story.” —VOYA

“Zelda, impulsive but loving, is a credible narrator whose feelings and actions propel the story, which is equally hers and Felix's.” —The Horn Book

“* A poignant close to an affecting and heartrending history.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“* Brilliant in its realism.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“* Tension builds swiftly in this wrenching tale . . . poignant.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review on Once

“* Extols the power of storytelling in the face of tragedy.” —The Horn Book, starred review on Once

“* The innocence and maturity of Felix's narrative voice conveys human resilience when faced with the impossible.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review on Then

“* Sequel to the searing Once . . . , this tale of young people trying to survive in Poland during World War II is equally powerful.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review on Then

Publishers Weekly
Following Once and Then, this finale to Gleitzman’s trilogy brings the stories of Felix and Zelda, orphaned children in Nazi-occupied Poland, to a conclusion both frightening and tender. Though this story can be read on its own, similarities in narrative voice connect the tales (as in the earlier volumes, the titular word begins each chapter). Readers of the previous books will quickly recognize a new setting—21st-century Australia—and narrator: Felix’s 10-year-old granddaughter, named Zelda after his brave, murdered friend. Gleitzman subtly explores Felix’s terrible survivor’s guilt and its effect on following generations, against the backdrop of Australia’s heat wave and devastating 2009 bushfires. Felix’s impassioned confrontation with local bullies (“People die because of stupid, vicious talk like that”) gives Zelda a rare glimpse into the past of a grandfather she admires, while emphasizing how undeserving she feels of her name, believing she lacks her namesake’s bravery. Felix’s altruism in the face of calamity frees Zelda to embrace the present, while her courage helps him save a life and put to rest his oldest love. A poignant close to an affecting and heartrending history. Ages 10–up. (May)
Children's Literature - Veronica Bartles
The conclusion of the trilogy that began with Once and continued with Then, this book tells the story of an all-grown-up Felix and his granddaughter, Zelda. Felix has lived a long life, and he has accomplished many things. As a respected former surgeon, he has saved countless lives over the years. People say he is a hero. But he doesn't feel like a hero, and he does not like being the focus of so much attention. Zelda wants to be brave, like her grandfather's best friend for whom she is named. But she doesn't feel very brave, and she is afraid she will never learn to be as amazing as her namesake. When the 2009 Victorian brushfires threaten their home, Zelda and her grandfather Felix discover that together, they can be brave enough to become true heroes. This book is young Zelda's story, as much as it is Felix's story, and we can see and understand how the trials and ordeals faced by one generation can affect the lives and stories of generations to come. Although this book is truly a conclusion to Felix's story, it works as a stand-alone novel as well. Gleitzman gives us just enough of the backstory that readers won't feel like they have missed out if they read the series out of order. It's short enough to read in an afternoon, with enough depth to the story to keep you thinking for weeks afterward. Reviewer: Veronica Bartles
VOYA - Amy Wyckoff
Zelda believes she has found the perfect gift to give her grandfather, Felix, for his 80th birthday. Unbeknownst to her, her gift will remind Felix of a painful memory from his childhood. Felix is, in fact, a survivor and even though he grew up to become a highly respected surgeon in Australia and a loving father and grandfather, he remains scarred by his experiences as a young boy during the Holocaust. Zelda was named after Felix's childhood best friend who was murdered by the Nazis while trying to save Felix's life. Zelda has tried her whole life to be brave like her namesake, but believes she is always falling short. She does not stand up to a bully at her new school who tries to make her the target of teasing; however, when a bush fire breaks out close to Felix's home, Zelda is given an opportunity to show her strength and help her grandfather learn to live in the present. Now is a powerful conclusion to Felix's story, which begins in Once (Henry Holt, 2010/Voya April 2010) and progresses in Then (Henry Holt, 2011). Felix is now a grown man but, understandably, he is still haunted by the experiences detailed in the proceeding novels. In the author's note at the end of the novel, Gleitzman writes that he wrote the stories so that they could be read in any order. Readers will have a richer understanding of Felix's character by reading the previous two books. Although he is walking around with a heavy burden, readers will likely find inspiration in Felix's ability to face each day anew and his journey to learn to live in the now. This would be a worthwhile addition to any middle school library or classroom bookshelf. Reviewer: Amy Wyckoff
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—Jumping ahead 70 years from where Once (2010) and Then (2011, both Holt) left off, this sequel finds Felix, a Holocaust survivor, about to mark his 80th birthday and caring for his adoring 11-year-old granddaughter while her parents are volunteering as doctors in Darfur. The fact that her parents called her Zelda is problematic to both the girl and her grandfather. Named after the 6-year-old girl who Felix-then only 10 himself-rescued from her home after her parents had been slain in 1942, the modern-day child is keenly aware that she is the namesake of a talented, inspirational, and brave individual whom she feels will always be the most important person in her grandfather's life. She feels hopelessly inferior to the departed Zelda, and feels especially lacking in courage since she began having run-ins with bullies at her new school. What his granddaughter does not fully understand is that Felix has his own deeply guarded and painful associations with the name, which is why he always refers to her as "Babushka," instead. So, while both Felix and his granddaughter are clearly thoughtful and capable human beings, they're also both psychologically hamstrung by the memories of the original Zelda. It'll take a regional disaster-a holocaust of a very different kind-for the pair to finally get over the past and begin appreciating the Now. While this book is perfectly understandable as a stand-alone title, it will be best appreciated by readers of the earlier volumes who are invested in the saga and who will find this title a clever and satisfying way of coming full circle.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Once and Then (2010, 2011) blend into Now in today's Australia as Dr. Felix Salinger, 80, relates his childhood and shows his present to his 11-year-old granddaughter, narrator Zelda. What occurs in their todays smoothly links the old story of Felix's horrific childhood in Nazi-controlled Poland with sometimes-happy, sometimes-unpleasant events in a small bush town. The girl is staying with Felix because her physician parents are in Darfur to help its people through a modern genocidal catastrophe. Local girls bully Zelda in the opening scene, and readers should be shocked and frightened by this experience. When Felix meets the bullies, in his anger he says, "Don't you know anything?"--a sharp echo of the very young Zelda of decades ago. Today's Zelda is named for her, but it is a weight, since the girl of the present feels she cannot live up to that other, long-dead girl, hanged by the Germans for an act of defiance that allowed Felix to escape the noose. A bush fire of horrendous size, fury and speed tests the mettle of the two, and Gleitzman's description of it is brilliant in its realism. Readers of the first two books will recognize a great deal, and those who have not should read them to gain a fuller picture of the years before and those in which we live. A fine, taut novel full of understanding. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Square Fish
Publication date:
Once Series, #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt


Now, at last.

It's arrived.

I can see it on the post office shelf.

Good on you, Australia Post, and your very kind pickup counter that stores parcels instead of delivering them to grandfathers and spoiling their birthday surprises.

"That one there," I say to the man at the counter. "The one with my name on it."

I show him my homework exercise book to prove I'm me.

"Hmmm," says the man. "Zelda. Nice name, that. Daringly exotic and a bit unusual."

"Actually, it belongs to someone else," I say. "I got it secondhand."

"I know the feeling," says the man.

He points to his name tag, which says ELVIS.

We give each other sympathetic looks. Elvis hands me the parcel.

"There you go, secondhand Zelda," he says. "Hope it's something good."

"It's a present for my grandfather," I say. "He will be eighty tomorrow."

Elvis says something about how he wishes he was eighty so he could retire. I sympathize with him, but I'm not completely listening. At last I'm holding Felix's present, and I can't wait to give it to him. I can't wait for his big grin when he sees what it is.

Oops, I didn't mean to make an excited noise in the post office.

Calm down, Zelda, you're not a squeaky toy.

I thank Elvis and head for the door.

My phone beeps in my school bag. I know who it is without even looking.

Poor Felix. He gets worried if I'm late home from school. He's not used to being my substitute parent.

I text him back.

on my way see ya soon

I hug his present to my chest and hurry out of the post office. If I run fast and don't faint in this heat or trip over and fall into any ditches, I can be home in fifteen minutes.

But I don't get far.

"Hey, shorty," says an unfriendly voice. "Where's the fire?"

Three girls are blocking the street. They're older than me, thirteen or fourteen. Their uniforms are creased like they get into lots of fights and never do any ironing. The toughest-looking one's got a badge on her school bag that says CARMODY'S PEST REMOVAL.

She's looking at me like I'm the pest.

I don't know why. I've never met these girls before.

Escape plans flash through my head.

I could climb up the mobile phone tower on top of the post office, or I could dash round the back of the video store and through the fence and hide in the forest, or I could run into the bank and get a personal loan and buy a ticket to Africa on a flight that leaves in the next two or three seconds.

No, I couldn't.

"So," says the pest-removal girl. "Dr. Zelda, I presume?"

I try to work out what she means. And how she knows my name.

Adults are walking past, not even looking at us. Don't they realize that when three older kids are standing this close to a younger kid, it's not a social event?

"Hope we're not keeping you from a big medical emergency, Dr. Zelda," says the pest-removal girl.

Oh, okay. I get what she's on about. And it's my fault. A few days ago in class, when I was the new kid, Ms. Canny asked me to tell everyone about my family. I told them about my parents being devoted doctors in Africa and my grandfather being a retired brilliant surgeon.

I shouldn't have said brilliant. It's true, Felix is very brilliant, but it sounds like boasting. I should have said quite good or average.

"I'm on my way home," I say to the girl. "It's not a medical emergency."

"Yes it is," says one of the other girls. She points to the pest-removal girl. "Tonya needs medical attention. She's swallowed her gum."

I smile to show them I know that's a joke.

They don't smile back.

"Come on," says Tonya. "Cure me."

Lots of other kids walking home from school are stopping and staring now.

"Or is that stuff all lies?" says Tonya. "About your family being Australia's top medical geniuses."

"I never said that," I reply.

"My little brother's in your class, and he reckons you did," says Tonya. "Is that why you had to leave your last school, Dr. Zelda? Cause you make up stories?"

I don't know who her brother is, but he's wrong. He'salso lucky. I wish I had an older sister. Then she could help me explain to these three bullies the real reason I had to change schools.

More kids are gathering. Tonya grins.

"Dr. Zelda's new in town," she says to them. "We're all very excited. She's a medical genius. She can cure zits and bed wetting and do heart transplants."

I try to leave.

Tonya's bully friends drag me back.

"Not so fast, shorty," says Tonya. "What have you got there?"

I hold on to the parcel as tightly as I can. I might not be the biggest or toughest person in the world, but when I'm defending a precious birthday present, I can be very determined.

"None of your business," I say.

Tonya prods the parcel.

"You look nerdy, so it's probably a textbook," she says. "Let me guess. Boasting for Dummies."

A couple of kids snigger.

"It's for my grandfather," I say. "If you harm it, I'll tell the police you damaged the property of a senior citizen."

Tonya's face goes a bit uncertain. I should get away while I can, but I don't.

"I'll tell the local paper as well," I say. "It'll be front-pagenews, an eighty-year-old man having his birthday gift vandalized. And when I tell them who did it, your photos'll be on the front page too."

I stop, out of breath. I'm taking a risk, because I'm not sure if there is a local paper around here.

Tonya glances at the other kids. Some are looking uncomfortable. A few are moving away.

"What a storyteller," says Tonya. "Spellbinding. And mesmerizing. I'm totally entranced. No I'm not."

She grabs the parcel and yanks it out of my hands.

"Give it back," I say, lunging at her.

"Make me," says Tonya.

She ducks away and pushes past the kids and dances down the street. Her two friends go with her.

I run after them.

I know what I should be doing. I should be ringing the police.

But I haven't got time for phone calls.

Inside that parcel is something very rare and precious, and I think it's going to make Felix very happy, and I want it back now.

Copyright © 2010 by Creative Input Pty Ltd.

Meet the Author

Morris Gleitzman has been a sugar-mill employee, frozen-chicken defroster, fashion-industry trainee, department-store Santa, and screenwriter, among other things. Now he's one of Australia's best-loved children's book authors, with books published worldwide.

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Now 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is wonderful my teacher read them to us and normally we hated read aloud but when it wad 9:15 we all raced to the floor
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont do it. Hes the devil in disguise. Hell only hurt you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm trey. What's your name?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well... hi el... is that your full name btw ? &#12485
Anonymous More than 1 year ago